Monday, March 19, 2007

Brunello Heaven

In February, we had to let Open That Bottle Night pass unobserved since we were out helping a friend celebrate his 50th birthday. A terrific night. But we knew we wanted to do something special in the near future to help make up for it. So we got together this weekend for a Brunello night -- each of us reaching into the cellar for a nicely aged '97 Brunello. I quickly forgot all about OTBN.

We had some absolutely killer wines, and fabulous food. And, we learned that 10 years old is just about right for this wonderful vintage of Tuscany's best wine.

First, we tasted an Azienda Agricola La Torre, which I have been sitting on for some time. It was a classic mature wine, right at or close to peak. It had wonderful aromas of black cherry, earth and leather with smooth, dusty tannins evident in the long finish. Twenty minutes later I was picking up sensational hints of smoked meat. This was just a perfect accompaniment to our lamb and a real treat, after having indulged in many new world wines of late.

Next we had one of Tony's wines, an Angelini Spuntali, and we were completely blown away. It's a shame that this wine was not served last because it was a revelation -- a completely hedonistic wine. No way another wine was going to top it.

From the first whiff I knew it was different. I picked up blackberries and cassis and even floral notes. But it did not seem especially mature. When I tasted it, I was thrown for a loop. This was an ultra rich, supple and delicious mouthful of joyous juice with a finish that just went on and on. There was so much velvety fruit, I couldn't believe we were drinking a 10-year-old European wine. But after 15 minutes or so in the glass, new dimensions began to appear as earth and lead pencil aromas emerged. Just a beautiful, beautiful wine that makes you extra happy to be alive. And, it still has plenty of life left to it, if you're lucky enough to have more.

Our last Brunello promised to be something special, a riserva from Altesino. It's a very fine wine with a lot of stuffing, but there's no doubt it suffered from having to follow such a delightful, open wine. In fact, the Altesino took quite some time to open up in the glass. When it did, it showed leathery, black fruit aromas in a very full-bodied package. But it was coy compared to the Angelini and required careful attention.

There was not a clunker in the bunch, and we were a happy bunch of tasters. Of course, you've got to figure you're going to be in a good frame of mind when you've got a lineup of mostly Brunellos. If only every weekend was this good.


Anonymous Tony said...

Tenimenti Angelini - Val di Suga Vigna Spuntali 97 received only "Two Glasses" from the 2003 edition of Italian Wines by Gambero Rosso.
"A wine with plenty of character, the sort that is elusive and hard to define... The nose always showed unusual energy, with strong spicy and tobacco tones as well as earthy notes and a decided presence of oak..." They tasted it 5 times and agonized over not giving it "Three Glasses". I would say it earned it in 2007 if not 2003.

6:36 AM  
Blogger JD said...

I think we were incredibly lucky in that the wine was firing on all cylinders -- the absolutely perfect time to be enjoying this wine.

7:56 PM  

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